Is There Truly No Such Thing as Bad Publicity?

Often the phrase “any publicity is good publicity” gets tossed around with a complimenting shoulder shrug. From shared content on a less than credible website to media coverage coming from some kind of corporate crisis or technical gaffe.

But does the adage hold true? Is there really no such thing as bad publicity? Entrepreneur magazine seems to sum up the subscribers of the theory best here, in an excerpt from their Nov. 2011 article:

They take the shotgun approach to public relations — firing off a press release aiming at anything with a heartbeat. Some business owners are the same way. They share valuable content in exchange for a tiny credit on an obscure website in the often unrealistic hope that this effort will somehow extend their reach and strengthen their brand presence.

Some might argue that a moment in the spotlight, regardless of what brought on its shine, is a great chance for a company to show off their PR team. If everyone loves a comeback, doesn’t negative publicity present an ample opportunity for a brand rise back up from the depths of disdain and into the hearts of consumers?

Business Insider argues that the saying isn’t so much of a catchall as it is a truth for newer companies. In the case of lesser-known companies, it might be better to be reviled than to be completely ignored. Sheets, a relatively new company who manufactures energy strips, has caught flak in recent months for its somewhat controversial series of ads. It may have caused a stir, but the campaign was also extremely effective in generating buzz around the new brand.

For small brands fighting for recognition in crowded markets, almost any publicity is beneficial, he [Alan Sorensen, an economics professor at Stanford University] reckons. One reason is that, for lesser-known brands, negative perceptions fade more quickly in consumers’ minds than their general awareness of the product. When coming across a brand whose boss is, say, a philanderer, they recognize it but don’t remember why. With established brands, on the other hand, the whiff of bad publicity lingers longer. (via The Economist)

So what do you think? Do you believe that any publicity is good publicity? Or is there simply no such thing as bad publicity for an unknown brand?

by Daniel Sweeney | posted | in Advertising & Marketing
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